The question of how the Orthodox Church should receive converts from other Christian confessions is a large and complicated one, and is sometimes capable of drawing very warm responses—including from some of our Protestant and Roman Catholic brethren who may feel rejected and slighted by talk of conversion from their confessions to that of Orthodoxy.
Christ tells the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to Him, “Ye can discern the face of the sky,” that is, tell what the weather will be; “but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” In other words, He’s telling them that this has nothing to do with science, or with knowing our place in the world, or anything of the sort.
The convent’s distinctive feature is that its nuns are not only from Greece, but also natives of other countries—Austria, Australia, the UK, Armenia, Germany, Cyprus, Lebanon, Russia, the USA, Estonia, and Japan; and they hold some parts of the services in their native languages.
Monasticism does not exist for any specific purposes related to this world. To quote an anonymous author of The History of Egyptian Monks (fourth century), “From the very beginning, the purpose of monasticism was following Christ in the desert, singing hymns and psalms and waiting for our Lord to come.” This seeming “uselessness” makes monasticism free from any services within the Church structure.
For Kireyevsky, the idea of the integrity of spiritual life was central to philosophy. It is precisely “integral thinking” that allows the individual and society to avoid the false choice between ignorance, which leads to “inclination of the mind and heart away from true convictions,” and logical thinking, which is capable of drawing a person away from all that is important in this world.
The journey Bishop John made to his current role was not a simple one. Before Vorkuta he served in the Ivanovo Region for a long time, but was actually born in Novosibirsk, where he defended his dissertation in radiophysics, worked as a researcher, and taught. That is, before he suddenly changed his life.
In 2009, the well-known Russian Protestant pastor Igor Zyryanov converted to Orthodoxy along with his entire community of neo-Pentecostals. We spoke with Fr. Igor about his discoveries in Orthodoxy, as well as about the best way to speak with Protestants about the true faith.